Schwarzenegger's Huzzah, Brown's Huddle

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AP/Rich Pedroncelli

A glitzy summit of a governor's environmental achievements. A somber discussion of his successor's challenges. Such was the contrast of the day spent by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.

We're told that the outgoing and incoming governors did not cross paths, as Schwarzenegger took a green victory lap at U.C. Davis during his third and final global warming summit, while Brown huddled with advisors and budget experts inside a conference room at his attorney general's offices in Sacramento.

In just under seven weeks, Brown will replace Schwarzenegger as the captain of a ship that's still in decidedly rocky fiscal waters. Between now and then, he will also be confronted with a list of suggested budget fixes offered by the outgoing Guv in a special legislative session.

"There is a special session and that's a great opportunity to do things," said Brown.

Exactly what that special session will look like remains to be seen; while Schwarzenegger has pledged to propose a deficit fix to newly sworn in legislators on Dec. 6, there's been no word on what those will be. In fact, there's no guarantee of just how large a proposal the governor will offer; the state Department of Finance will make its own estimation of a problem pegged at $6 billion this fiscal year by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

For his part, Schwarzenegger was focused today on the final chapters of his environmental legacy. After a discussion via satellite at his summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the governor then handed out environmental leadership awards. His press secretary, Aaron McLear, told reporters this morning that Schwarzenegger saw no need to either confer or defer to the governor-elect on the budget fixes now being drafted, though the two men did talk by phone about the special session last week.

Brown's afternoon meeting was with several of Sacramento's budget experts, including the top K-12 analyst for the state Department of Finance and longtime education consultant, and former state Board of Education chair, John Mockler. Mockler is a particularly noteworthy attendee of the governor-elect's afternoon chat, as the education expert was the chief author of Proposition 98, the 1988 landmark initiative that controls budget spending on K-12 schools and community colleges.

(And as mentioned a few days ago, Prop 98 is perhaps the single biggest change to the budget process since Brown left the job of governor in 1983.)

Brown was in no mood to opine to the press today. "Day by day, keep chipping away," he said when asked how he's approaching the transition period.

He did, though, offer this thought on the budget process that lies ahead: "I'd like to see each of the legislators and the groups that hire all these lobbyists to come to Sacramento to offer their thoughts."

But first, he's likely to get the thoughts of the incumbent governor. Will they square with those of Brown? His fellow Democrats in the statehouse?

For now, we don't know. All we do know is that there are likely to be many more days like this one between now and January 3 -- one man hoping to end on a high note, the other ever more painfully aware of the many low points just around the bend.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new California Politics & Government Desk. He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades, serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and most recently as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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